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GRDB Trial: Cabinet directs Police Commissioner

The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) trial commenced yesterday, where six former members were charged by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU). Those charged were identified as former GRDB General Manager, Jagnarine Singh,  former Deputy General Manager of the GRDB, Rickey Ramraj, Badrie Persaud; former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine, PPP/C Parliamentarian, Nigel Dharamlall and head of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj.

They were charged with failing to record entries for funds amounting to over $250 million in total in the agency’s general ledger.

Significantly, fireworks erupted in the Courtroom when Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall began his cross examination of Mr. Robert Tyndal. Mr. Tyndal was in the witness box and testified that he in fact arrested the six former members, charged them and placed them on bail, subsequently. Mr. Nandlall questioned the witness based on several statements that was served on the defence. Among those statement was a statement from Mr. Tyndal saying that the Police Commissioner received a report of the forensic audit pursuant to a decision of Cabinet. The forensic audit was done at the GRDB after the Coalition Government took office.

The Prosecution objected on the ground that the statement was mistakenly served on the defendants. After hearing legal arguments from Mr. Nandlall and Special Prosecutor, Mr. Michael Somersalt, the Magistrate overruled the Prosecution’s objections and ruled that it is proper and permissible for Mr. Nandlall to cross examine the witness, Mr. Tyndal based on the statement.

However, the witness then requested some time to refresh his memory from the statement. The matter was adjourned to 12th October 2017.

Mr. Nandlall in an invited comment stated, “This disclosure in Mr. Tyndal’s statement vindicates what I have been saying from the inception in respect of these and other charges: that they are politically directed. It is the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that advises on the institution of criminal charges, here you have Cabinet directing the Police Commissioner. Significantly, the Police Commissioner cannot be directed by Cabinet on these matters. Indeed, Cabinet has no legal responsibility or role to play in relation to the institution of criminal charge. What we are witnessing here is a violent violation of the Separation of Powers Doctrine and rank contamination of the streams of justice by political direction. This is an abuse of the criminal justice system and it is indisputable evidence that the criminal justice system is being manipulated and abuse by politicians.”

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